Blog Post

Lessons learned from Washington, D.C.

By: Natalie Gochnour

Originally published in the Deseret News

I visited our nation’s capital last week with a delegation of community leaders from the Salt Lake Chamber. The chamber puts on a remarkable program, including face time with members of the Utah Congressional Delegation, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the Secretary of the Air Force and policy experts with the U.S. Chamber. We also visited the Federal Reserve, toured the Pentagon and witnessed a profound Honor Flight ceremony hosted by Herbert. D.C. is teeming with activity right now; I took abundant notes so I could share highlights.

The most important lesson I learned is that we frequently ask the wrong questions in public policy discussions. This is especially evident when talking about health care. We are constantly asking and debating who will pay for it. We shift costs around from the provider, to the payer, to the patient and to the taxpayer. We then spend most of our time debating who pays. The question we should be asking is this: “How do we reduce the cost of health care.” The “Repeal and Replace” debate is meaningless without cost containment.

The quote of the week came from Michael Connolly, Sen. Mike Lee’s deputy chief of staff. Connolly’s words struck at the heart of Washington’s problems. He said, “The easiest answer to every problem in Washington is to keep everything the same and spend more money. We will get it wrong by doing the easy solution.” This wisdom is a great lens with which to view and discover policy solutions.

Connolly, who is a public policy guru and knows Capitol Hill well, said something else that stuck with me. He reflects the views of his boss when he says R